Model Of Spiritual Growth
Why do I need IGNITE?
Can you imagine running a race without knowing where the finish line is? How about participating in a boxing match with no opponent? Sounds rather silly, doesn’t it? Yet, this is exactly what many of us do when it comes to spiritual growth. We want to grow spiritually but we have no clear goals and objectives in mind. Oh, we know there are certain things we’re supposed to do like pray and read the Bible but most of us don’t get much further than that. To make matters worse, we have absolutely no idea where the finish line is. After all, how is spiritual growth measured?
The Apostle Paul warned against this haphazard approach to spiritual growth. Paul insisted that we must be intentional about growing spiritually. In 1 Corinthians 9:26, Paul wrote, “Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air.” Paul was intentional about his spiritual growth and he wants us to be as well.
What is IGNITE?
This is where IGNITE comes in. In one sense, IGNITE is deceptively simple. It is nothing more than an outgrowth of the classic spiritual disciplines. For centuries, Christians have discovered that if they make certain disciplines (or habits) part of their daily routine (things like prayer, Bible reading, and stewardship), it helps them to grow in their faith. That’s all the spiritual disciplines are! Habits that help one grow closer to Jesus. And IGNITE is simply a way to approach the disciplines in a logical and progressive manner.
How does the IGNITE work?
IGNITE consists of four levels or categories: Spark, Flame, Blaze, and Wildfire. IGNITE shows you what areas you’re strong in and what areas you need to focus on in order to grow spiritually. Further, on the right IGNITE resources are provided to help you grow in your weak (and strong) areas.
How to begin
Go through the four categories checking all the boxes that apply to you. This will show you where you are strong and what your growth areas are.
- Prayerfully choose ONE discipline to focus on for the next weeks/months.
- Prayerfully consider what measurable and reasonable goals you can make for yourself in regards to this discipline.
- Ask yourself what support would be helpful for you as you seek to achieve your goals (e.g. someone to pray for you, someone to get together with for breakfast once a week/month, someone to ask how you’re doing occasionally, etc.).
- Team up with one or more persons. Tell them how they can support you (#3) and ask how you can support them. (After all, we can’t grow spiritually all by ourselves).
PS. Don’t forget the IGNITE resources available to you on the right.
There you have it! That’s IGNITE! So simple a child can do it (and I do encourage you to practice a discipline with your children or grandchildren) but so powerful it can transform your life. Shouldn’t spiritual growth be more complicated than this? Not in God’s mind!
Where does the Holy Spirit fit in?
The Holy Spirit is absolutely essential to spiritual growth. In fact, He is the one who produces spiritual growth. As Paul wrote, “I planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.” (1 Cor. 3:6). The disciplines that we have delineated here are simply habits that, down through the ages, Christians have discovered help to create a fertile soil in their lives. Remember though—spiritual growth does not happen automatically simply by following certain steps. It’s the work of the Holy Spirit in your life. IGNITE is designed simply to help you aid the work of the Holy Spirit in your life.
As you work your way through this model, one of the most important things for you to do is to listen for the voice of God. This is vital for every step of the journey. Sometimes, though, I get asked, how does one listen for God’s voice? How do I begin to hear him? Let me suggest a few pointers:
1. Read the Bible. You’ll already be doing this as part of IGNITE. Listen for what God will tell you through His Word. And, remember, God will never tell you to do something that contradicts His Word.
2. Listen for the inner leading of the Holy Spirit. As you attune yourself to hearing God’s voice, you’ll begin to hear little stirrings and urgings within you, very faint at first but growing stronger over time. These stirrings may be the voice of God.
3. Pray. Prayer is not just talking to God but listening to Him as well. When you pray, make sure you take time to listen to God speak to you.
4. Be watchful. Look for the Holy Spirit to reveal Himself to you through circumstances. Sometimes, God will work through the circumstances of life (e.g. conversations, sermons, open and closed doors) to guide you in the direction He wants you to go.
5. Expect the Holy Spirit to guide you through others. You will discover that God will use pastors, parents, friends, family members, strangers, and even people whom you don’t get along with to speak to you. Always be careful, though, to evaluate everything in the light of Scripture.
How should I approach IGNITE?
As you enter into this exciting, new model of spiritual growth, there are some important points to keep in mind:
1. Don’t feel bad about where you stand currently. The point of the survey is not so much to tell you where you’re falling short as to get you headed in the right direction. In other words, it doesn’t matter nearly so much where you fall on the spectrum as the direction you’re moving in.
2. IGNITE is not a competition. The point is not to compare your score with others but to enable you to develop a personalized strategy for moving ahead.
3. Don’t try to rush through IGNITE. Remember that spiritual growth is a process not an event. One of the things that the Church Fathers were unanimous on is the fact that church growth cannot be rushed. Indeed, it’s a lifetime process. I anticipate that you’ll want to spend a year or more in each category. Focus on developing habits not checking off boxes.
A final word of encouragement
Begin IGNITE prayerfully and expectantly. Believe that God is going to honour the commitment you’re making to spiritual growth. There are many people praying that this will be a life-transforming experience for you. You are at the beginning of a path that many spiritual giants have walked before you. As with anything, there will be peaks and valleys. Like Christian in John Bunyan’s novel, The Pilgrim’s Progress, the most important thing is just to keep walking.
Know that our prayers go with you!